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Sri Lanka finish off campaign in style beating defending champions

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Pathum Nissanka posted yet another half-century in the ICC T-20 World Cup and the 91 stand between him and Charith Asalanka laid the platform for the innings. Pix by Sameera Pieris.

Rex Clementine in Abu Dhabi

Sri Lanka finished off their campaign in the ICC T-20 World Cup in style beating defending champions West Indies in a convincing fashion here in Abu Dhabi yesterday. Having set a target of 190, Sri Lanka’s bowlers came up with a splendid effort to restrict the two time World Champions to 169 as Wanindu Hasaranga caused heavy damage. The leg-spinner bowed off as the tournament’s highest wicket taker having snared 16 victims. It’s the highest haul by a Sri Lankan in a T-20 World Cup with the previous best being Ajantha Mendis’ 12 scalps in the 2012 edition at home.

Shimron Hetmyer put up a brilliant show finishing on an unbeaten 81 off 54 deliveries with eight fours and four sixes. But the Windies were always playing catch up chasing the massive target.

Never mind that Sri Lanka did not qualify for the semi-finals. This young bunch has been an absolute treat to watch.

Pathum Nissanka and Charith Asalanka, Sri Lanka Under-19 team mates in 2016, have carried the senior team’s batting in this campaign. Asalanka signs off as tournament’s highest run scorer with 231 runs and an average of 46 and strike rate of 141. Nissanka is not far behind having scored 221 runs having played two more games than Asalanka. Jos Buttler comes in third with 214 runs.

What do Pathum Nissanka and Sir Jack Hobbs have in common? Both their fathers were groundsmen.  What do Charith Asalanka and Kumar Sangakkara have in common? They had/have an insatiable appetite for runs.

Asalanka, the captain in waiting is 24 while Nissanka is a few months younger to him. How Nissanka was not even in the reserve list lead up to the World Cup is mind-boggling. But as philosopher Sangakkara once said, selectors like god go about their business in mysterious ways.

Sri Lanka had to wait for four years to find Asanka Gurusinha’s replacement at number three. Sanga came along and he was prolific there for a decade and half. Six years after Sanga’s retirement, we have unearthed another gem in Asalanka. A long career awaits him and he will probably make his Test debut as well in two weeks time at his hometown – Galle.

Both youngsters completed half-centuries adding 91 off 61 balls to turn the tide in Sri Lanka’s favour.

They had set things up nicely for the middle order to throw caution to the wind in the last five overs and skipper Dasun Shanaka promoted himself to number four position and smashed an unbeaten 25 off 14 balls.

West Indies struggled lacking genuine pace.

Sri Lanka rued losing to South Africa a close game and a few mistakes against England and Australia proved to be costly during the World Cup.



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Sri Lanka sign off with win

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Charith Asalanka hit five sixes to power Sri Lanka [Cricinfo]

Sri Lanka ended their 2024 T20 World Cup campaign in a resounding fashion with a dominant 83-run win over Netherlands in Gros Islet. It meant they ended on three points and third place in Group D behind South Africa and Bangladesh, who had confirmed their place in the Super Eight after beating Nepal in Kingstown.

Sri Lanka’s victory set up by their batters and finished off clinically by the bowlers. Nuwan Thushara was the pick of the bunch with figures of 3 for 24, but each of Maheesh Theekshana, Wanindu Hasaranga, Dasun Shanaka and Matheesha Pathirana also got in on the act as Netherlands were knocked out and bowled out 118 in chase of 202.

Charith Asalanka had led the way for Sri Lanka with a blistering 46 off 21, which itself followed solid efforts from Kusal Mendis (46 off 29) and Dhananjaya de Silva (34 off 26). Jet fuel was then poured on proceedings by Angelo Mathews (30 off 15) and Hasaranga (20 off six), as Sri Lanka became just the second team to breach 200 this tournament.

Netherlands briefly flirted with an improbable chase when Michael Levitt was going strong in the powerplay, but once the first wicket fell the rest offered up little resistance as Sri Lanka’s varied attack proved too tough to handle.

Losing Pathum Nissanka second ball put paid to any notion that Sri Lanka might come out all guns blazing, but a steady rotation of strike in the powerplay mitigated the lack of early boundary striking – the powerplay saw four fours and a solitary six, but they managed to score 45 runs despite losing two wickets.

By the end of the tenth over Sri Lanka’s boundary count remained in single digits, but the continued consistent running between the wickets ensured that they maintained a healthy run rate. Between overs seven and ten only two boundaries were struck, but Sri Lanka nevertheless found themselves at a healthy 74 for 2 at the halfway stage of their innings.

A shift in gears was however necessary on a ground in which 181 was chased down just a day prior, and this occurred swiftly and suddenly in the 13th over, as Dhananjaya pounded Paul van Meekeren for three consecutive boundaries – using the strong cross breeze to great effect.

Sri Lanka’s batting had been under heavy scrutiny coming into this game, particularly their middle order, which had been guilty of not showing enough intent and purpose. Here though they fired on all cylinders.

From the 13th to the 20th over only one of those went without a six being scored, as Sri Lanka plundered 77 runs off the final five overs. Asalanka, Mathews and Hasaranga all had impressive showings, feasting on the Dutch bowlers’ inability to nail their lengths with most deliveries proving either too full or too short.

The result was a score that was always likely to be a stretch too far against this Sri Lanka bowling attack.

He might have had only 12 T20Is to his name, but 20-year-old Michael Levitt had already made quite the impression, having made his debut earlier this year. Leading up to this game, in just 12 T20Is he had already racked up 368 runs at an average of 33.45 and strike rate of 150.20, including two fifties and a century.

Regardless of opposition those are impressive numbers, and here against a challenging Sri Lankan attack, he (briefly) lived up to the hype. He took on both Thushara and Theekshana in his 23-ball 31, the highlight of which was a sumptuous back-foot lofted-cover drive off the latter for six.

His inexperience showed when he charged and was stumped off Theekshana, but the future certainly does seem to be bright for the youngster.

Levitt ‘s wicket towards the end of the powerplay followed Max O’Dowd’s an over prior. It meant two new batters were at the crease, but the required run-rate remained as steep as ever. What followed was a crash course in intent without execution.

Vikramjit Singh fell pulling as Kamindu Mendis completed a very unique bobbling, juggling catch, while Sybrand Engelbrecht – having managed a sweet straight six off Hasaranga – would fall a short while later trying the same off Matheesha Pathirana Pathirana.

A double-strike an over later from Hasaranga then suddenly left Netherlands reeling on 71 for 6. Scott Edwards hung around for a stubborn 31 off 24, but wickets kept falling around him as Netherlands were eventually bundled out in the 17th over.

Brief scores:
Sri Lanka 201 for 6 in 20 overs (Kusal Mendis 46, Dhanajaya de Silva 34, Charith Asalanka 46, Angelo Mathews 30*, Wanidu Hasaranga 20*; Vivian Kingma 1-23, Aryan Dutt 1-23, Logan van Beek 2-45, Paul van Meekeren 1-37, Tim Pringle 1-41) beat Netherlands 118 in 16.4 overs (Scott Edwards 31, Michael Levitt 31; Nuwan  Thushara 3-24, Maheesh Theekshana 1-25, Matheesha Pathirana 2-12, Wanidu Hasaranga 2-25, Dasun Shanaka 1-10) by 83 runs

[Cricinfo]

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Tanzim’s four, Mustafizur’s three take Bangladesh into Super Eight

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Tanzim Hasan Sakib bowled a fiery opening spell [ICC]

A fiery opening spell from Tanzim Hasan Sakib powered Bangladesh to a slightly tense win over Nepal, sealing their progress to the Super Eight stage. For the second game in a row Nepal had a Full Member side on the ropes with their bowling performance in Kingstown, but their batting order was blown away by Bangladesh’s fast bowlers.

A win, let alone a comfortable one, looked like a tricky prospect for Bangladesh after they were bundled for 106. Having come within two runs of chasing down a slightly bigger target against South Africa, Nepal would have fancied their chances of bagging their first win against a Full Member team, but Tanzim scythed through their top order with stunning figures of 4-2-7-4 that reduced Nepal to 26 for 5.

While the low asking rate meant Nepal could still keep their chances alive, Mustafizur Rahman put on a death bowling masterclass when Nepal needed 30 off 24 to help Bangladesh pull off the lowest successful defence in a men’s T20 World Cup.

Nepal found themselves in big trouble early when Tanzim struck twice in his second over – the third of the innings. Kushal Bhurtel missed a low full toss that swung away late to clip the off stump before Anil Sah toe-ended his effort to mid-off.

Taskin Ahmed created a couple of chances in the next over, and Tanzim reaped the rewards of the pressure built, with Rohit Paudel slapping a short and wide delivery straight to backward point. Tanzim nearly struck again in the over, but a leading edge from Sundeep Jora fell short of the bowler.

Mustafizur then had Aasif Sheikh caught at cover to complete an excellent powerplay for Bangladesh.

Tanzim bowled out in the seventh over, and picked up his fourth wicket when he had Jora caught at gully. He bowled a double-wicket maiden and a wicket maiden, and his 21 dot balls were the most by a bowler in a men’s T20 World Cup match.

From the start of the eighth over, there was a 23-ball boundary drought, with legspinner Rishad Hossain especially getting sharp turn. Dipendra Singh Airee finally swept Rishad for four off the last ball of the 11th over that helped Nepal reach 50 in the next over.

Malla and Airee consolidated for Nepal, shifting gears in the 16th over when Malla slog-swept Mahmudullah for Nepal’s first six of the innings. One ball later, he nudged him fine on the leg side for a four to bring up the fifty partnership. They were left with 30 to win off the last four.

Two of those four overs were to be bowled by Mustafizur, and he broke the burgeoning stand with a back-of-length cutter that was skied over mid-off. Najmul Hossain Shanto did well to settle under it running back and holding on to a tricky chance. Just the one run came off the over.

Nepal attacked Taskin when Airee slapped a six over point but the bowler gave away only one more run in the next five balls and also sent Gulsan Jha back. Mustafizur then bowled five dots on the trot as Airee kept swinging and failing to make contact. Airee looked to knock the last ball of the over for a single, but ended up edging behind to make the penultimate over a wicket maiden.

Shakib Al Hasan, wicketless in the tournament before the game, picked the last two wickets to complete a team hat-trick. This also made it the first time Bangladesh won three games in a T20 World Cup.

Sompal Kami struck first ball for Nepal, who opted to bowl, as Tanzid Hasan top-edged a short ball for a return catch to the fast bowler. Shanto was next to go, as Airee went through the Bangladesh captain’s defence in the next over.

Given a third over on the trot, Kami then got Litton top-edging a pull off a short ball that wicketkeeper Aasif Sheikh settled under. It meant a poor run of form for Bangladesh’s top order, who have only contributed 122 runs in their four group stage matches.

Towhid Hridoy, Bangladesh’s best batter in the competition, hit two fours but top-edged an attempted slog sweep off Paudel to leave Bangladesh stuttering at 31 for 4 at the end of the powerplay.

Mahmudullah looked to regroup for Bangladesh along with Shakib, hitting two crisp boundaries off Sandeep Lamichhane, but was called for a run that was never there and ended up being run out at the non-striker’s end in the ninth over.

Shakib and Jaker Ali tried to consolidate, but Paudel got another breakthrough by dismissing Shakib, before Lamichhane bowled Tanzim and Jake with wrong’uns to put Bangladesh under threat of being bowled out under 100.

But Rishad Hossain and Taskin helped Bangladesh add 31 runs for the last two wickets that took them to 106.

Brief scores:
Bangladesh 106 in 19.3 overs (Shakib Al Hasan  17; Sompal Kami 2-10, Sandeep Lamichhane 2-17, Rohit Paudel 2-20, Dipendra Singh Airee 2-22) beat  Nepal 85 in 19.2 overs (Kushal Malla 27, Dipendra Singh Airee 25; Tanzim Hasan Sakib  4-07, Taskin Ahmed 1-29,  Mustafizur Rahman 3-07, Shakib Al Hasan 2-09) by 21 runs

[Cricinfo]

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Shaheen and Babar seal Pakistan’s nervy win against Ireland

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Shaheen Afridi was lethal with the new ball [Cricinfo]

Pakistan made it more complicated than it needed to be, but Babar Azam and Shaheen Shah Afridi led them to a nervy three-wicket win to sign off their T20 World Cup campaign. Shaheen led the way with the ball with three early wickets and finished the contest off with two sixes, while Babar shepherded a chase that he watched fall apart with an unbeaten 32.

Mohammad Amir and Haris Rauf joined Shaheen among the wickets as Ireland were reduced to 32 for 6. At that stage, an early-afternoon finish appeared likely, but Gareth Delany and Mark Adair gritted their way through a 44-run partnership off 30 balls. Imad Wasim took care of the lower order with figures of 3 for 8 in four overs, in what is likely his last game for Pakistan, but a cameo of 22 from Josh Little took Ireland to 106.

Pakistan were cruising through the chase after eight overs with Saim Ayub, Mohammad Rizwan and Babar doing their bit to take any sting out of Ireland’s bowling attack. But a frenetic phase in the middle overs, when Curtis Campher and Barry McCarthy took four wickets for 10 runs, left Babar alone with a relatively long tail.

But Abbas Afridi swung his way through a happy-go-lucky 17 to bring the target down to 12, while a calf injury for Little meant Ireland had to bowl spin at Shaheen. He finished with two heaved sixes to seal a win that gave Pakistan relief rather than satisfaction.

After going eight successive T20Is without a first-over wicket – his longest dry spell in his T20I career – Shaheen finally snapped the streak today, his third ball a perfect illustration of why he has historically been so effective up front. The new ball swung and seamed back in to pierce Andrew Balbirnie’s defences and crash into the stumps. Two balls later, Shaheen got one to shape the other way, kissing Lorcan Tucker’s outside edge on the way to Rizwan. There was nearly a third when Pakistan reviewed one that clipped Harry Tector’s pad, and though that wasn’t given, Shaheen trapped Tector in front in his next over.

When Pakistan had Ireland at 32 for 6, any prospect of recovery was distant. But Ireland understood that continuing to attack was the most direct route to runs. In the tenth over, Gareth Delany hit Shadab’s first ball for six and Mark Adair pulled the last one for four. They attacked Abbas Afridi, who had not played a competitive game since his inclusion in Pakistan’s World Cup squad, for 16 runs in the 11th.

It kept Ireland on track three figures, and when another slump came – from 76 for 6 to 80 for 9 – Little and Ben White batted the remaining six overs, adding an unbeaten 26 for the last wicket. An hour later, they were almost rewarded for it.

Pakistan securing a straightforward win would have been an inauthentic end to the campaign they have had, and duly, the collapse came. If Pakistan felt they were sitting pretty halfway through the chase against India, it was nothing compared to the impregnability of their position against Ireland. Pakistan needed 55 in 12 overs with eight wickets in hand, with Babar and Fakhar Zaman batting, when Zaman drilled one to mid-off. It was the catalyst for flutters through the whole of the Pakistan camp as Usman Khan was deceived by McCarthy’s extra bounce in the tenth over.

The memories of the chase that fell apart last Sunday were fresh as Shadab, to whom cricket is offering no hiding place at the moment, flicked his second ball to the wicketkeeper. Imad finally connected with the cut shot he’s been trying since Ravindra Jadeja bowled against him, but straight to the man at point. An unassertive top order and a non-existent middle order won’t get you out of the first round at many World Cups, and this game was the perfect illustration of the point.

Brief scores:
Pakistan 111 for 7 in 18.5 overs (Babar Azam  32*; Mark Adair 1-24, Barry McCarthy 3-15, Ben White 1-11, Curtis Campher 2-24) beat Ireland 106 for 9 in 20 overs (Gareth Delany 31, Josh Little 22*;  Shaheen Shah Afridi 3-22, Mohammad Amir 2-11, Haris Rauf 1-17,  Imad Wasim  3-08) by three wickets and seven balls remaining

[Cricinfo]

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